Lots of companies talk about customer centricity. And many companies use multiple mechanisms to attempt to tap into the customer’s brain and way of thinking. One of the best examples is Procter and Gamble. They use a range of processes to understand the customer by watching, listening and observing their customers’ behavior.
Steve Jobs does it differently. Steve Jobs has, I believe, the unique gift of being able to see into the future – to predict what the customer will want 2-3 years out. And of course, what is uncanny about his ability is that, if he asked the customer today what they wanted, the customer would not be able to articulate it. Would anyone have asked Apple to create a device that would revolutionize the music industry? No way. Would a customer have been able to describe the iPhone interface for Apple to build? No way.
I am a firm believer that a very very deep understanding of customer behavior is a necessary condition for the success of any business. We are fortunate to live in the same era as Steve Jobs, who can, I believe, project the customer’s expectations into the future in a way no one else can do. And that is significantly amazing.
There is a great article on Steve in the magazine Seeds of Success. It’s worth a read.